Be smart about your holiday parties | Editorial

Almost every 90 seconds, a person in the U.S. is injured in a drunk driving crash and one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. An average drunk driver has gotten behind the wheel 80 times before his/her first arrest.

We don’t have many fatalities or grievous injuries from car wrecks here on Orcas, but they happen every few years. We’re lucky it’s not more often. The Sheriff’s Log is always peppered with Driving Under the Influence incidents.

There is simply no excuse for driving while intoxicated or impaired. When you get behind the wheel of 4,000 pounds moving at speeds of 35 miles per hour and more, you need to be alert and sober. We’ve all seen the mangled remains of cars and devastation of families left in the wake of drunk driving collisions. Try to remember these scenes before you say “Oh, I’ve only had a few drinks, I am fine to drive home.”

About one-third of the drunk driving problem – arrests, crashes, deaths, and injuries – comes from repeat offenders. At any given point we potentially share the roads with 2 million people with three or more drunk driving offenses (source: MADD.org).

So not only should we never drive a car while impaired, we should also be aware of others behaving erratically on the road.

Tips for hosting a responsible get-together

Information Provided by the Lopez Island Prevention Coalition.

• Control access to the alcohol you provide.

• Avoid serving from common sources such as kegs or punch bowls.

• Offer soft drinks, fruit juices, bottled water and coffee so that your quests have an alternative to alcohol.

• Allow quests to have only one drink at a time. Discourage competitive or rapid drinking.

• Provide plenty of appetizers, snacks and other foods.

• Plan entertainment and other activities so that drinking alcohol is not the primary focus of the party.

• Remember, it is illegal to serve alcohol to young adults under the age of 21.

• Make sure anyone who is visibly intoxicated does not receive any more alcohol and is not left alone. Even if the guest is not driving, an impaired guest can be injured or injure others in many ways, not just in a car.

• When necessary, provide alternate transportation for impaired guests. Either call a cab, or enlist the help of sober friends to take the impaired guest home.